Are you a Swiftie? Or more likely, parent of a Swiftie? If so, there might still be time to get on the train or plane to Germany and head straight for the lovely town of Heidelberg on the banks of the Neckar river to join in with fellow fans and followers of the super-duper-mega star that is Taylor Swift for a very special – church service.

What is she on about, you might be thinking now. Has Taylor Swift on top of everything else now also become a priest and for some reason chosen Germany to take to the pulpit? Not quite. It is rather a priest who is using the singer‘s music to get bums on seats – and it works: When Heidelberg’s Protestant Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) announced that, on 12 May, there would be a “pop service” featuring Swift’s music and entitled “Anti-Hero” after one of her songs it was pretty quickly fully booked. It should be said that Heiliggeistkirche is not any old church but Heidelberg’s largest, with a history going back to the 14th century and a popular visitor attraction in the old town centre.

The clever priest behind this idea, one Vincenzo Petracca, told the media that he was totally stunned and hadn’t expected such a response. He is, however, not new to this business of pop musically themed church services. In fact, Vincenzo (aka “dj_pfarrer” – “dj_priest” – on Instagram!), has given pop music a permanent place in the sacred halls of his 600-year-old Gothic church, with the “Citykirche Rock ‘n’ Pop” series of church services that have so far featured music by the Beatles, Madonna, Queen and others.

The Taylor Swift “gig“ might be his most successful so far, though. After the 423 seats available for the 11 am service on 12 May had been booked in no time – apparently by lots of mums whose children had told them “let’s go together” – another was put on for the same day at 1 pm. Which brings me back to the beginning and your potential family trip to Heidelberg: At the time of writing, online booking (of course, all for free) for the second show wasn’t open yet, so there might still be seats available. Any worshippers who make it can expect around six live Taylor Swift songs – sadly, the DJ priest is not taking to the decks – sung by Tine Wiechmann, former professor of pop church music (Germany is getting cooler by the minute, isn’t it) at Heidelberg’s renowned University of Church Music.

Apart from the live band and singing the service will focus on the relationship between religion and politics in Taylor Swift songs – this is a church, after all – and our music-loving priest points out that Swift has made political statements in the past that are rooted in her Christian belief. Do you think this is just some desperate attempt to get young people into churches? Maybe. But hats off to Vincenzo. He strikes me as someone who lives in the real world and if the real world includes an international pop phenomenon called Taylor Swift, you could do worse than engage with it. Amen and out. P.S.: If you couldn’t care less about any of the above, book your Heidelberg trip anyway. I’d recommend walking the Philosophers‘ Way away from the crowds for gorgeous views over the river, old town and castle.

Barbara Geier is a London-based freelance writer, translator and communications consultant. She is also the face behind, a German travel and tourism guide and blog that was set up together with UK travel writer Andrew Eames in 2010.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Discover Germany, Switzerland & Austria.

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